On Wednesday, Karnataka State Pollution Control Board denied Graphite India Limited ‘consent for operation’ for not complying with requisite air pollution norms.

After allegations of pollution Graphite India in Ktaka writes to BSE NSE
news Controversy Friday, September 21, 2018 - 18:03

A day after Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) found Graphite India Limited, Whitefield, in the wrong for not complying with requisite air pollution norms, the company has filed a clarification with Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and National Stock Exchange (NSE). In its statement, the company claimed it has been “a law-abiding entity and gives utmost importance towards statutory compliance including environment matters”.

 However, despite the bad press, the company’s stock at BSE and NSE did not take a beating.

On Wednesday, KSPCB chief Lakshman had told TNM that he will not give “consent for operation” to the factory after finding multiple non-compliances.

Graphite India further said it has reduced its operations and is confident that its emissions are well within the “prescribed norms”. In the same filing, the company said authorities need to look into other factors such as heavy vehicular traffic, construction activity, metro rail network and other industries with regard to the ambient air quality.

For 20 years, the company has been accused of brazenly flouting environmental norms by Whitefield residents and putting them at a greater risk of health hazards caused by air pollution. 

When KSPCB inspected the factory on Wednesday, it was found that the building had broken side panels and cracked roof, which caused the dust to escape into the surroundings.

Incidentally, Graphite India, which was served a closure notice in 2012 by the KSPCB, was told to take this corrective measures in 2014. The company has been operating following a stay order by an appellate court (Karnataka State Appellate Authority) in 2013.

Graphite India also reiterated that it received a favourable ruling in 2013 in its statement. It also claimed, “The company rationalised its operations in the Bengaluru plant in spite of a favourable ruling from the Appellate Authority. Thereafter, in accordance with the business requirements, the extent of production activities in the said plant has since reduced substantially.”

Speaking to TNM, Lakshman on Wednesday had said, “We will move the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to vacate the stay order so that we can impose a closure order.” 

Meanwhile, unimpressed with the authorities failing to take the case to its logical conclusion, a section of residents filed a separate case against the company at the National Green Tribunal.

The Kolkata-based company is a manufacturer of graphite equipment, steel, glass reinforced plastic (GRP) pipes and tanks and is also involved in the generation of hydel power. It has six factories in India and one in Nuremberg, Germany. The company recorded Rs 957 crore in net profits in April-June 2018 quarter compared to Rs 1,032 crore in net profits in the previous fiscal.

In response to the company’s filing at the BSE, a member of Whitefield Rising, a resident collective fighting for the cause of clean air, said, “Graphite India has not addressed the concerns raised by the citizens during the personal hearing in the KSPCB Chairman's office with respect to the presence of black soot in locations around their factory, and the presence of a strong smell. These findings were verified by the KSPCB Chairman during his inspection on September 19.”

The Whitefield Rising member added, “We call upon the KSPCB Chairman to use all his powers to take strict acion against Graphite India for continuing to make a mockery of the PCB of India's air pollution norms, and the directives given by the Appellate Court judgement.”

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